The Comet Hopper
The comet hopper, Rosetta philae, is an artificially created life-form designed to colonize and terraform comets. First thought of in the late 1980's, the “manufacture” of the comet hopper took more than ten years, and is one of the greatest scientific undertakings of its time.
Being artificially created, the planet hopper cannot be classified into the existing phylogeny of life, and thus, an entirely new branch has been added to the tree of life. Next to fungi, plantae, animalia, protozoeae and monoreae, we now have the homoformeae. Although the comet hopper is their only representative as of now, the new kingdom might grow faster than most expect.
Philae was designed not only to reach comets, but to start analyzing the surface components of these comets, and, if at all possible, gather the materials necessary for it to build a replica of itself, thus imitating, or becoming, life. The exact nature of the materials, as well as other information it can find on the comets, is sent directly back to earth, so that new command modules can be designed, to improve adaptability of the comet hopper, and allow it to create replicas of itself with materials not found on earth.
Although the comet hopper had to be shot into space for its first landing, and the cost and time involved in this operation would not allow us to mass-replicate it in current economical conditions, spreading philae from its initial home might not be quite as complicated.
Equipped with the latest model of movement sensors and cameras, the comet hopper can scan not only the comet on which it has landed, but also passing celestial objects. Once the comet hopper has created a clone of itself, this clone will then wait for another comet passing nearby, or any other astrological body of sufficient size, and hop from one comet to the next. Given the low gravity of the comet, and the precise mathematical algorithms that have been programmed into the comet hopper, this jump should not be of much difficulty, although the landing could pose some risks.
Of course, many have objected that the chances of encountering a suitable object are too low, or that the replication of the comet hopper would take too long. However, this is without considering the circumstances of the whole project.
Being a human-made object in space, the lifetime of philae is much longer than that of the organic life on our planet, which is constantly subject to oxidation, radiation, and other degrading mechanisms of aggressive compounds. But for a man-made structure in space, circumstances are quite different, and their lifespan should be considered accordingly.
If the programming of the comet hopper has gone well, the new life-form will execute its mission regardless of the time it will take. And who knows? Maybe in a hundred years, or maybe in a thousand, there will be a small representative of the homoformeae coming back to our planet. And won't it be fascinating to see what evolution has done to it?